A bogus claim

  Dear HCN,

I was very pleased to see the article about the efforts of Skip Edwards in the Westwater Wilderness area (HCN, 10/16/95). Our ranch, the Mountain Island Ranch, is the only BLM grazing permittee on the east shore of the Colorado River through the Westwater Canyon. Skip and I have had our differences of opinion on grazing, but on the Pene mining scam he is right on the mark. I have watched the Pene "mining" claims and roads evolve for the last 15 years. Ron Pene made those roads himself; there has never been a county road there.

Mr. Pene has claimed that the mouth of the Westwater Canyon contains a "mother lode" of hard rock ore with 48 ounces to the ton of high-grade mixed gold and other minerals. At that rate, every major international mining concern would be beating down his door for the rights to the mine, and he would be a very rich miner indeed. It is a bogus claim.

There is no question in my mind that Mr. Pene has no intention of becoming a "rich miner." He plans on patenting the land and selling it off to the hordes of river-oriented tourists. With the land values soaring in Moab, he would become a millionaire overnight. There are already recreation cabins being built just across the river at Westwater, some perched on the rim viewing the mouth of the canyon.

Pene has an outlaw attitude. For years he has flaunted the authority of the people charged with the management of the lands here. Every time I meet him on the road in, he has a .38 caliber revolver handy on the seat beside him and a hard look in his eye. Federal land agency employees are required by local politics and common sense to be non-confrontational, essentially giving Pene carte blanche from the local law enforcement. To allow this man a bogus mineral claim is to submit to the worst sort of robbery and intimidation. The good news is that Skip has documented the abuse and attempted theft, and with luck we won't be looking at a subdivision in this wilderness canyon.

Hawk Greenway

Glade Park, Colorado

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